Political economy: The economy of 100 days

The last government had claimed it would tackle the economy within 100 days, which in reality turned into just a political promise and nothing in practice. PHOTO: FILE

The last government had claimed it would tackle the economy within 100 days, which in reality turned into just a political promise and nothing in practice. PHOTO: FILE

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 07th OCTOBER 2013: It seems to have become a tradition for elected governments whenever they assume power they set ambitious targets, build tall claims on baseless facts, and promote a culture of sweet dreams which never come true within the prevailing constraints of the economy.

The obvious outcome of such fallacies is a gap between expectation and performance which leads to a trust deficit over the ruling elite of a democratic system. What I have observed during the recent tenures of political governments is that every successive one sets a deadline of 100 days for its economic goals, like the resolution of the power crises, circular debt, and uncertainty due to a worsening law and order situation.

But nothing has been achieved entirely during these periods due to ineffective implementation. In this regard there is no doubt that governments usually prefer to achieve short-term economic goals instead of long and medium term planning mechanisms first. They design the short-term goals of 100 days without any assessment of resources needed to implement them.

It seems that the economic history of Pakistan is repeating itself every five years when an elected government faces the same circumstances as a previous government did five years earlier. And history shows the same picture whenever we look back through the decades.

The last government had claimed it would tackle the economy within 100 days, which in reality turned into just a political promise and nothing in practice.

The question is what has been learnt in five years of deep-rooted economic crises? The answer is nothing. The same energy crises, the same storm of inflation and the same International Monetary Fund loans with their conditional ties are waiting again after five years.

The government has achieved nothing. Inflation is still rising rapidly, prices of food items and other basic necessities have soared from 50% to 100%, the price of petrol from Rs98 to Rs110 per liter, CNG from Rs73 to Rs84 per kg and flour from Rs37 to Rs46. The tariff of electricity and gas also shot up 20% for domestic consumers and over 50% for industrial consumers. The rupee devalued against the American dollar, giving rise to inflation and price-hikes.

Although huge challenges on the economic front can’t be resolved at once, the actual cause of concern is why the governments set ambitious targets without assessing resources and the capability to reach them?

In the end, I will say again that the government has to realise the fact that such practices of setting the deadlines to meet the challenges of years of mismanagement bring nothing but a lack of trust.

The writer hosts business talk shows on FM 101 and Radio Pakistan and is pursuing an M Phil degree in Economics

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